10mins. With Felicia Leatherwood
By Jemi Ekunkunbor
Hollywood celebrity stylist, Felicia Leatherwood was guest speaker recently, at a one day workshop in celebration of the Natural Hair Month organized by The Kinky Apothecary.
Felicia who has styled stars such as Will Smith, Viola Davis, Teyonah Parris and Jill Scott over the last 20 years, returned to Lagos, Nigeria this year for the third time to hold “Loving Your Hair” workshops with naturalistas.
Allure Vanguard had this rare encounter with this expert on all things hair and, she shares her thoughts on how to take care of natural hair, plus why more women are ditching weaves for natural hair.
You specialise in natural hair care. What could be responsible for this new move by more women to wear their hair natural?
There are so many reasons for that. We have a situation where we have women who have had bad weaves or relaxers on their hair, now the hair is not healthy, and they have lost their hair. So, there is an issue, they don’t have a choice but to go natural. Another reason is that there are people who when they see someone wearing her natural hair and she looks beautiful, then they want the same. So you find a situation where more people are learning how to work with their natural hair.
For me, I work with a lot of the black celebrities in Hollywood who are naturals. So, when they see them on the red carpet; Joe scot, Teyonah Parris, etc they become an inspiration for them to want to play with their natural hair as well. Then of course, you have the bloggers, the You tubers, who show you how to do your hair easily through their platform. So for me the journey is after everyone has done everything, gone to YouTube and they don’t understand, where do they go? They come to me because I went to school for two years to learn about hair; my speciality being natural hair specifically. I know how to do everything but natural hair is my passion. So they come to me to find out the best way to grow their hair, to take care of their hair and to produce beautiful hair styles.
Women have a lot of challenges with hair lines that are receding. What can they do?
There are so many remedies now to bring the hair back. There are different reasons for receding hair lines. You have traction alopecia which is usually caused by tight braids or weaves. Then you have a genetic situation caused by DNA. If your grandmother or mother started experiencing hair loss at a certain stage, then you have that. But if you notice when the hair starts to go, you can actually help bring it back. You can bring it to a space to slow down the hair loss.
There are certain oils to help bring the hair back. There is a product called growth renew it’s a serum, it can help bring the hair back, makes it grow and makes it thicker.
There is a company called Bekekoa, they have a terminal oil that helps bring back and restores the hair. But do you know what the real problem is? People don’t stay with the regimen. They don’t stay with one product. They want quick result in like two weeks so they don’t stick with one regimen; but if they stick with it, six months later, they will have hair. And when they say to me “ I didn’t finish it” I am like, why? All these while you could have been using it and you would have seen something. But nobody sticks with one regimen.
Is it true that it’s more expensive and time consuming to maintain natural hair than processed hair?
Some people say it takes too much time and too much money, other people say it’s better money and better time. It’s the individual that makes it easier or makes it harder. Once you master three good hair styles, then you can make it easy. But if you go in and you are frustrated before you start, it will make it harder for you. But it’s always good to have three signature looks that you like, that you can go to and everything else, you play with from time to time. You can experiment. The thing about natural hair is that, if you are a product junkie, then it’s going to be expensive; but no one like I said before, sticks with anything. If you find like three products that you know your hair loves, you always know what to go back to but people don’t do that. They keep trying everything and everything.
What looks would you recommend for the red carpet?
A simple up do is the best.
But how do you wear an updo with receding hair lines?
When you take your hair up, you can get some kinky hair and some pins and cover the hair lines. You can make a swoop and pin it. That’s how you cover it. They also have little hair fibres called topik, you put a little bit on the fibre on the spot. There is also a pomade that has hair dye for the edges. It’s called Okay. It’s a dye edge control so there is no excuse now.
Who are some of the celebrities that you have styled?
I love Issa Rae, she had a show about the misadventure of the awkward black girl. I love working on her. I also love working with Teyonah Parris.
What did you show the Nigerian audience this year?
This year, what I did was the big chop but different as I demonstrated how you can make it look good. At times when people chop their hair, they don’t like it because it has the signature look of being round. But when I chop, I make it short at the sides and leave more on top and that gives you more flavour when the hair is styled. When the hair is wet, you can also take a sponge and get the hair to curl nicely.